Box Office $20.51 million;
$25.99 DVD, $31.99 Blu-ray, $35.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for strong language, some war action/violence, and smoking.
Stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson, Thomas Sadoski, Daren Kagasoff, Joe Jonas, Spencer Neville, Nick Hargrove, Boone Platt, Dean Denton, Thad Luckinbill, Serinda Swan.

The story of Jesse Brown, one of the U.S. Navy’s first black aviators, is told in Devotion, a film that could almost pass for a 1950s version of Top Gun were it not based on actual events with some tragic overtones.

Jonathan Majors stars as Brown, the first African-American aviator to finish the Navy’s basic flight training program and the first black naval officer killed in the Korean War.

The film begins with Brown’s time training with his squadron in Rhode Island, where he meets fellow pilot Lt. Tom Hudner, played by Glen Powell. They are assigned as each others’ wingmen, sparking what would become a brief but strong friendship.

The fact that Powell appears as a pilot here in such proximity to his role as an aviator in Top Gun: Maverick is one source of the film’s proto-Top Gun vibes; the other is that Devotion used Top Gun: Maverick’s stunt coordinator to create fantastic aerial footage using vintage fighter planes such as the F4U Corsair, with the actors filmed in real planes in flight, just like Top Gun: Maverick.

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The biggest chunk of the movie is their time training for potential conflict with the Soviet Union during the early days of the Cold War. Brown, who is married and raising a young daughter, must also contend with the racism of the day. Another pilot raises a comparison to Jackie Robinson, and it wouldn’t be too out of line to liken the film to an aviation version of 42.

Soon enough, the squadron is called to duty in the early days of the Korean War, where Brown’s eagerness to demonstrate his skills as a combat pilot get him into trouble on more than one occasion.

Most of the first two-thirds of the film, however, are fodder to set up the emotional stakes of Brown’s final mission, in which he is forced to crash land behind enemy lines, while Hudner tries to rescue him.

Well shot, acted and backed by a strong musical score, Devotion is both an entertaining film and a solid depiction of military history that should appease aviation enthusiasts and general audiences alike.

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The home video editions include two informative featurettes: The 11-minute “The Aviation of a Forgotten War” focuses on the making of the film and the use of real planes, while the 12-minute “The Legacy of Jesse Brown” is more of a profile of the central character and what his legacy meant to those making the film.

Boxing Drama ‘Creed III’ Looks to Deliver Weekend Box Office Knockout

A busy March box office beckons with Amazon/MGM Studios’ Creed III, the third installment in boxing drama spin-off of the “Rocky” franchise, looking to become the champ.

The film finds heavyweight champ Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) defending title and lifestyle against a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy (Jonathan Majors). In addition to headlining the movie, Jordan also directs the follow-up to 2018’s Creed II, which featured elder statesman Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) guiding Creed. That movie generated more than $214 million at the global box office. The threequel could best the sequel’s record $35.6 million North American box office opening and could generate $43 million in ticket sales through March 5, according to Box Office Pro.

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Another new weekend theatrical release, Sony Pictures/Crunchyroll’s anime release Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba — To the Swordsmith Village, follows in the successful footsteps of the 2021 box office hit Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, which generated $453 million in worldwide ticket sales. To the Swordsmith Village is tracking an opening weekend revenue estimate of around $11 million, significantly below Mugen Train, which debuted with $21.3 million in ticket sales. The former is also expected to finished behind the third weekend of Disney/Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which should tally around $14 million.

Other weekend box office returnees include Universal Pictures’ Cocaine Bear, which is projected to generate an additional $10.3 million in ticket sales, followed by Lionsgate’s faith-based Jesus Revolution, with $9.4 million in estimated revenue.

Lionsgate is also debuting Guy Ritchie’s international comedy thriller Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, featuring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes and Hugh Grant. Box Office Pro suggests the movie is projected to generate $4 million in ticket sales.

War Film ‘Devotion’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 28

The war film Devotion will be released on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 28 from Paramount Home Entertainment

Jonathan Majors (Creed III) and Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) star in the true story of two elite U.S. Navy fighter pilots who helped turn the tide in the most brutal battle in the Korean War: Jesse Brown, the first Black aviator in Navy history, and his fellow fighter pilot and friend Tom Hudner. Their heroic sacrifices and enduring friendship would ultimately make them the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen.

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Bonus content on digital, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray includes “The Aviation of a Forgotten War,” a deep dive into the world of 1950s U.S. Naval aviation and the epic aerial action brought to life in Devotion, and “The Legacy of Jesse Brown,” about the extraordinary life of Jesse Brown, the first African-American Naval Aviator.

Paramount Snags Home Entertainment, TV Rights to Three Romulus Entertainment Movies

Paramount Pictures on Sept. 8 announced that it has secured home entertainment and television licensing rights to three feature films from Romulus Entertainment.

The films will be released in select U.S. theaters by Vertical Entertainment in tandem with their release on home entertainment platforms.

“We are delighted to bring these exceptional films to audiences around the world through a combination of home entertainment platforms and television licensing,” said Dan Cohen, president of the ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group. “With top-notch casts and creative talent, these films offer gripping stories that will appeal to a wide array of viewers.”

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The three films included in the agreement are:

Dreamland, starring Margot Robbie as an outlaw bank robber during the Great Depression who becomes involved with a young man who must choose between collecting the bounty on her head or following his heart. Aside from Robbie, the film stars Finn Cole, Travis Fimmel, and Garrett Hedlund. It was directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte and written by Nicolaas Zwart.

Jungleland, in which Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell play brothers trying to escape their circumstances by traveling across the country for a bare-knuckle boxing match that becomes a fight for their lives. The film, directed by Max Winkler, was co-written by Winkler, Theodore B. Bressman, and David Branson Smith. Jessica Barden also stars.

Gully is about three disaffected teens who roam the streets of Los Angeles, seeking seek revenge for all the ways the world has failed them through a series of increasingly violent crimes. The film stars Amber Heard, Jonathan Majors, John Corbett, Terrence Howard, Charlie Plummer, Robin Givens. Nabil Elderkin directed the film, which was written by Marcus J. Guillory.

The deal was negotiated by Lauren Fisher for Paramount Pictures, Brad Feinstein from Romulus Entertainment and Andrew Kramer of Loeb & Loeb.